19,000 Brits Helped Abroad by Consulates in 2012-13

By ExpatBriefing.com Editorial 19 July, 2013

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has published its annual British Behavior Abroad Report, showing that consular staff gave assistance to more than 19,000 British citizens abroad in 2012-13, and that some countries have seen big increases in more serious cases of need.

Although the overall figure represents a drop of 3 percent, hospitalizations were up in countries including Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Portugal, Australia and India. In Thailand, a significant rise in hospitalizations and deaths (31 percent in each instance) was put down to road traffic accidents, particularly involving young people on mopeds, and to an aging expat population. In the Balearics, Turkey and the Greek islands, the FCO says that hospitalizations are often related to alcohol misuse.

Spain, as in previous years, remains the location with the highest number of hospital admissions by British citizens, although the figure has decreased significantly. The FCO says that consular staff in Spain have been working more closely with local hospitals to make them aware of the types of cases where the FCO can add value. Consular staff have also strengthened ties with charities that support British nationals in less critical situations, which allows the FCO to focus on the most vulnerable cases.

Meanwhile, there has been a significant drop in general arrests and detentions, although some countries, including Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates, have seen increases. The FCO says drugs remain a problem in many countries, including Jamaica, France and Portugal, although the number of overall arrests for drug offenses dropped to their lowest level for four years.

The report also notes a 10 percent increase in reported rapes and sexual assaults, with the largest numbers in Spain, Turkey and Greece. The FCO notes that these are destinations popular with young Britons for their busy nightlife.

Following publication of the report, FCO Minister Mark Simmonds was quoted as saying that he was proud of the efforts of FCO staff to support British travelers and residents. He said: "I encourage all British travellers to do everything they can to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip by taking some basic steps to prepare themselves before departure, including taking out comprehensive travel insurance and researching their destination."

He added that he was "deeply concerned" by the rise in reports of rape and sexual assaults, and that the FCO would continue to work with other governments and tour operators to help prevent further cases. He explained that victim support includes "explaining local procedures, accompanying people to the police station, helping them deal with local authorities and medical staff and contacting friends and family at home if that is wanted."

Tags: United Kingdom | Expats | Healthcare | Travel | Welfare | Healthcare |


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